CLEMSON — Clemson will travel to Raleigh on Saturday to face the North Carolina State Wolfpack in a Halloween match-up that is sure to have some fans spooked. N.C. State is notorious for upsetting highly ranked teams in Raleigh and that includes Clemson.
In 2011, seventh-ranked Clemson went to Raleigh having wrapped up an ACC Atlantic Division with a 9-1 record. N.C. State was 5-5 at the time and confounded the Tigers all day in a 37-13 drubbing. Dabo Swinney said this week that the 2011 game is irrelevant, but it does serve as a reminder to a team again looking for a championship.
That game in Raleigh was Swinney’s only loss against N.C. State so far as a head coach in six games. While the hype going into this weekend’s game is similar, this Clemson team is far different. In 2011, Clemson had a record setting offense but had little in the way of defense. The Tigers ranked 71st in yards per game that year, a far cry from their current fourth best ranking.
Clemson has also proven they can do everything on offense. The Tigers are one of only a handful of teams to have passed and rushed for 400 yards in the same season. While N.C. State has been successful on defense this year (currently third in yards per game), that numbers have been put up against vastly inferior opponents.
The Wolfpack opened the season with four consecutive blowout wins, but they came against Troy, Eastern Kentucky, Old Dominion and South Alabama. Against their first two ACC opponents, they faltered, losing to Louisville and Virginia Tech.
As they hit a critical stretch in the season, N.C. State is looking for a win to define their season and boost their program. Coach Dave Doeren is in his third season as head coach and is currently 15-16 at N.C. State after going 24-4 at Northern Illinois.
While the Wolfpack are desperate for a win, the Tigers are desperate for a season. These Clemson Tigers have bought into their coaches’ philosophy and approach every game as the biggest game of the season. As long as that continues and each Saturday is a Clemson Super Bowl, these Tigers will be difficult to overcome.
Clemson and N.C. State will kick off Saturday at 3:30 p.m. The game will be televised on ABC, Tru Vista channel 5.
Reach James Inabinet at 803-635-4016.